Mark Savage, a longtime state Department of Natural Resources employee who operated Mudgee Tree Farm near East Olympia, was killed Monday in a car crash in New Zealand. He was 58.
The New Zealand Herald reported this week that the crash happened near the town of Whitianga, not far from Auckland, at 12:26 p.m. New Zealand time. His wife of 32 years, Karen Barale, survived the crash and underwent surgery at Thames Hospital, the newspaper reported.
Barale is not expected to return to the Olympia area for three weeks. At that time, a memorial will be planned for Savage, said his sister, Sharon Austin of Idaho. Savage’s body was cremated in New Zealand, she said.
Sharon added that Savage and Barale had purchased property in New Zealand eight years ago and had been there since Dec. 20, spending their first Christmas abroad. They were on their way to the airport to fly home when their vehicle crashed, she said.
Family members and friends remembered Savage today as someone who loved to stay active, fishing, beekeeping, scuba diving, growing Christmas trees at Mudgee Tree Farm or teaching people how to make wreaths at his wreath-making parties, his sister said. She said Savage was born with “gills.”
“If it came out of the water, it was his,” she said.
Savage joined the state Department of Natural Resources in 1994 and worked most recently as a communication site manager, co-worker and fishing buddy Dan Walters said. Walters said Savage liked to go fishing at Westport or La Push, or look for crab and shrimp.
“He was extremely active and generous with his time,” he said, adding that Savage always was willing to lend a hand and help others.
“I lost my fishing buddy, no doubt about it,” Walters said. He said a memorial fund has been set up in Savage’s name at the Washington State Employees Credit Union.
Savage’s mother, Martha, also said her son was good with people, especially children, and that he would’ve made a great third- or fourth-grade teacher. She called him a friend to everyone and a natural-born teacher. Savage’s father, Mike, of Petaluma, Calif., could not be reached today.
Savage also loved dogs, and Austin said she was worried about the couple’s black Labrador, Maggie, who is “going to be a little lost when he doesn’t come home.”
Rolf Boone: firstname.lastname@example.org/bizblog